• Member Since 13th May, 2012
  • offline last seen Saturday

Softy8088


I like stuff. I dislike other stuff. I frequently dislike stuff other people like, and vice-versa. I'm not a troll; I'm a contrarian. I also write stuff, sometimes. It's not very good.


T

In a tiny, barely-known mountain village live the ponies who once worshipped Nightmare Moon. Twilight discovers that Luna is planning to visit them, but doesn't want anypony else to know. Just what is the Princess of the Night trying to hide? The more Twilight investigates, the more her suspicions grow that an ancient and evil ritual is about to take place. There is only one way to be sure: secretly follow Luna on her journey. But, as Twilight will find out, all knowledge comes with a price...

Chapters (3)
Comments ( 20 )

My second published MLP fic. Unlike "Jump In My Cart", I actually put serious effort into this one. Criticism is very welcome. Seriously, don't spare my feelings; tear it apart it you want to. Corrections to grammar/spelling are appreciated, but please keep in mind that I'm fond of British spelling variants, so things that might look wrong to American eyes aren't necessarily mistakes.

I had no idea how to tag this thing. I was debating on adding a "Romance" tag but I was worried that might give people the wrong idea. (TwiLuna, which this is not.) "Adventure" might also apply... I dunno.

The main story is done but I marked it "Incomplete" because there is a short follow-up/continuation I have in mind, where Twilight faces punishment for what she did.

Ok I must say i was thinking that there will be blood spilled for a while. The one thing that stood out for me was this:

the hours forgotten as both student and pupil

One of those should be "teacher" or "mentor" I suppose...

And... the promised continuation. I'm not happy with it, and I'm not even sure I want it in my own head-canon. Still, it was part of the original story idea, so it gets included for completeness, if nothing else. :ajbemused:

Wow. Mood swings going back and forth. Heebie jeebies, then relief and happiness! Then back to heebie jeebies! Then relief again!

You weren't kidding when you said you had planned this out carefully. Pony and Prejudice was enjoyable, but this whole thing was excellent. This pieces twist worked out great.

1519029 :pinkiehappy: I'm very happy that you enjoyed this story. I really do like twist endings but I'll try to rein myself in a bit in future fics. I do not want to become a lesser-known M. Night Shyamalan of the pony world.

1521309

Oh god, don't remind me of that horrible man.

What he did to The Last Airbender... *shivers*

Wow! For a moment I was a little freaked there. She cut off Twilight's mane! Hah! :rainbowlaugh:

Wow, that was a twist at the end of the first chapter. You built up the dark atmosphere rather well and I find the twist at the end a nice touch. Good job.

"economical with the truth"

Heheh.

Inserting the chapter breaks where you did was downright cruel. But fun. Poor Twilight. :)

1680778 Yep, I love that phrase. :twilightsheepish:
1681258 "Cruel" would have been if you had to wait a week for the next chapter. And I think Twilight's punishment was a bit on the harsh side, but appropriate. Her mane and tail will grow back eventually, and in the meantime she carries a reminder of the harm she did. Which is the very point of such a punishment. Glad you liked the story!

Hmm, this was a pretty good read.

I found you did a good job with creating suspense in the first chapter, and the plot twists were enjoyable overall.

The main weakness I found was a lack of development of the characters; even Twilight seemed a bit flat. I suppose it's inevitable in a short story, but I think it made the events throughout feel sort of forced - particularly in chapter two. More time for setup and character building might have made the story flow better by making the character's actions better justified/explained, even if would lead to some deviation from the main storyline.

. . .Or maybe I have no clue what I'm talking about :derpytongue2:. Providing critiques is hardly my strong suit. Either way, I liked it! You did better then I ever could of, that's for sure.

1710247 On the contrary, you seem to have a very good idea of what you're talking about. While Dark Rituals is my personal favourite of all my stories so far, it seems it didn't strike as much of a chord with my readers as I'd hoped. You're the first person to tell me why, and you have no idea how much I appreciate that.

I take it you came here from Complicated Relations, so I guess you were expecting something longer and more character-oriented. Dark Rituals wasn't really intended as character or relationship development; it's atmosphere-based. The feelings are evoked from the situation, and the reader's understanding of it. Twilight is, frankly, just an audience surrogate here - or at least in the first chapter.

The second chapter is indeed a bit contrived, but, like I said, it was part of the original idea I had so I figured I should at least give it a shot. I had hoped the atmosphere would be established enough at that point so that I could just drop some more of the same and not have the readers question it, though I was never completely satisfied with it myself.

And... reading everything I just wrote above, I think I figured out at least part why this story isn't all that popular.
Thank you. :heart:

1710428 Glad I could help in some capacity. :twilightsmile:


I did indeed come here after reading Complicated Relations, but that doesn't necessarily mean I was seeking a character-orented story. I like stories based on atmosphere and emotion. The dedicated pursuit of setting and tone can be very effective, and some great stories have been written in this way.

However, reading your comment made me think of another angle to this story that I hadn't considered before. This is fanfiction: while it comes with the writing advantages (or conveniences) of an established universe and well-developed character traits, it also comes with the burden of these same features. Characters like Twilight and Luna are already well-developed - while their relationship is not very established in the show, it nonetheless exists before you even set pen to paper in writing your own story.

The typical audience surrogate is the opposite of Twilight - where she is a developed character, they are truly an empty shell, free from attachment or personality. That's not to say she can't fill the role, but for her to do so the established characterization must be addressed. This is not a major concern in the first chapter: while you spend a substantial portion of the exposition explaining (or justifying) Twilight's motives for following Luna, both characters quickly fade into the backdrop of the events of the night. For a while at least, the story is free to explore atmosphere and you develop some wonderful suspense.

It is in Chapter Two that the existing characterizations come to the forefront. The tension of conflict thrusts their existing personalities to the forefront, whether you desire it or not. Twilight can no longer be ignored as mere storytelling vehicle - she is effectively on trial for her actions, and in this case it is a trial of character as much as a trial of fact.

At the climax, our biggest concern is whether Luna's actions feel in character, and not for how good of a story they make.

:scootangel: :heart:

1711075 Certainly, the characters exist with their own established personalities; one should not blatantly go against those characterizations. Sometimes, though, the necessities of the plot demand some "bending" of the characters to make the story move forward, as long as one doesn't go too far, the story should remain believable. The alternative is to just use OCs, but I desperately want to avoid that unless I have no choice.

I think Twilight worked well as an audience surrogate (at least in "Investigations") because the story was about discovering and observing; that is what the readers are supposed to want to do and it is exactly what comes naturally to Twilight. I think it's a mistake to say that an audience surrogate must be "blank" or an "empty shell" (though tons of writing guides say exactly this) - they must simply be someone the audience can inhabit. Sometimes a certain kind of personality in a certain kind of story is perfect for this. "Investigations" is the one piece of my pony fiction where I truly felt that everything came together, and none of it feels awkward to me.

In the "Violations" chapter a lot of stuff happens very quickly, and Twilight becomes very involved all of a sudden. I think I kept Twilight's reactions within the established "parameters" of her personality; though in a situation like hers - accused of a terrible crime, judged and summarily sentenced, utterly helpless, and fearing the worst, desperate to escape and yet feeling genuinely guilty - her reactions would fit many ponies. There really aren't a lot of options when that kind of thing happens.

Luna... well, her personality is not well established in the show; her few canon appearances show she can be happy, sad, and angry; my own impression is that she is prone to letting her emotions get the best of her though she tries to be controlled and regal. In this story she sort-of displays this, but I suppose she calmed down a bit too quickly. My own explanation for this is that she was following ancient law and custom that is familiar to her, therefore she was able to stay controlled because her course of action was very clear as soon as she understood what had happened. Explaining Luna's motivations was nearly-impossible since I wanted to keep the subjective narrative strictly to Twilight, and I wanted to wrap the events up quickly. Still, I think I kept Luna "possible", if not "plausible".

I do agree that there was very little setup for what was happening; maybe it was too jarring for the reader? I was asking them to accept a lot very suddenly. If you see my first comment on that chapter, I said I wasn't happy with it. Over time I have grown to like it a lot more, but it doesn't feel "smooth". And going back to what you said, it seems I didn't even present Luna's or Twilight's established personalities as a comforting ground for the reader, so I can see how it would feel... "unstable" (a better word escapes me for the moment).

So, um, yeah... You've given me a lot to think about in my future writing. Thanks for giving me an excuse to jabber on about this story; I was worried I'd never get a chance to do that. :twilightblush:

I did not think I would end up giving this one a thumbs up, but I was wrong. The first chapter was brilliantly suspenseful and the double twist felt a tiny bit over the top, but it was very fun to read.

1722361
I never liked it when people use a blank character for the audience surrogate. It's easier for me to relate to Twilight than it is for me to relate to some stallion with zero personality other than "got suspicious of Luna for a minute there". The other major problem with blank characters is they tend to be so bland it distracts from the story, since doing anything other than following the rails requires them to develop a personality. And Twilight definitely fits here, she can get pretty caught up in her ideas.

Wow, this story's gone all over the place. I like the end of each chapter can be considered a stopping point.

I can also just imagine Luna's comment after the end of the last chapter: "Really, Twilight, I'm disappointed. I thought you'd trust me to not do such a barbaric thing. Besides, what would Celestia say? I am, however, very eager to see what she says when she sees you like this..."

You shouldn't be so hard on yourself; "Violations" and "Epilogue" aren't that bad.

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